At our recent A.G.M. for the South Australian branch of the Australian Childcare Alliance, the guest speaker was Dr Ron Somers, who presented his research into Safe Sleeping for babies. Sadly, there have been several research studies in the last decades identifying soft mattresses as a cause of sudden infant death syndrome – SIDS. If safe sleeping surfaces for babies had been regulated, many of these deaths would not have occurred.
Dr Somers, who lectures at the University of Adelaide, was one of the leading developers of a new standard to specify firmness of baby mattresses. This is so far only a voluntary standard, but he is hoping that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will adopt it as a regulated requirement for Australian suppliers.
“A baby sleeping on a surface that is too soft has more than 3 times the chance of dying from sudden infant death than one sleeping on a surface tested to this new Australian standard”, says Dr Somers. “There is often an assumption that the firmness of baby products is regulated but, alarmingly, it isn’t”. Dr Somers continues, “This is an oversight and an area of infant safety that has been neglected.”
For parents who are using existing mattresses and equipment, Dr Somers has developed an informal test that can be conducted by parents at home, using common household objects such as two cartons of milk or juice and a stack of DVDs to measure the firmness of a sleeping surface (see above video and also Identifying a properly firm Infant Matress) He has also developed a “firmometer” for this test. Dr Somers website is Secure Beginnings
At our Glandore Centre, we have an ongoing testing program of the firmness of our baby mattresses. We have purchased a firmometer to do this. Any mattresses which do not pass the quarterly test are replaced.
We believe that it is so important that babies sleep safely that we are making the firmometer available to parents to test their own mattresses. Talk to Tanya to arrange to borrow the guage.
SIDS and Kids also recommends parent’s follow the ‘Sleep Safe, My Baby‘ guidelines to reduce the risk of sudden infant death and to create a safe sleeping environment.
- Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side, sleep at bottom of cot
- Sleep baby with head and face uncovered
- Keep baby smoke free before birth and after
- Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day
- Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult care-giver for the first six to twelve months
- Breastfeed baby if possible
- No soft mattresses, bumpers or soft toys
More information on Home Safety for Babies
Please share this information with other families with babies.